Jungson’s JA-88D looks like a power amplifier but it’s not. It seems that Jungson JA-88D was caught out by a high consumer demand for integrated amplifiers at a time in the event it was primarily producing separate pre and power amplifiers. The company judged the fastest way to get a product to market to fulfill demand was to build preamp circuitry into one of its existing power amplifier chassis.
Thanks for searching out Australian HI-FI Magazine’s equipment review and laboratory test from the Jungson JA88D Integrated Amplifier originally published in Australian Hi-Fi Magazine, September/October 2006 (Volume 37 Number 5). This equipment review includes a full subjective evaluation from the the Jungson JA 88D Integrated Amplifier published by Peter Nicholson, as well as a complete test report, including frequency response graphs conducted by Newport Test Labs, plus an exhaustive analysis of the test results published by Steve Holding.
This equipment review is currently available only as a low-resolution pdf version from the original magazine pages. Yes, it seems much like a power amplifier, but it’s not. It’s an integrated amplifi r. You’d be forgiven for your mistake, however, because it seems that Jungson was caught out by a high consumer need for integrated amplifiers at any given time in the event it was primarily producing separate pre and power amplifiers. Jungson’s engineers judged that this fastest way to get a product to advertise to fulfill this demand was to incorporate the circuitry in one of the preamplifiers into among its existing power amplifier chassis.
It chose a roomy chassis it was using for its JA-99C power amplifier and modifi ed its circuit, and this of the existing JA-1 preamplifier, to generate this integrated amplifier, the JA-88D. The Machine Self-evidently, the front side panel from the JA-88D is dominated by the two huge, power meters which are not only ‘oceanblue’ (to quote the purple prose in the brochure!) when the amplifier is off, but a beautiful iridescent shimmering blue when the amplifier is powered up-a blue so blue it offers a virtually ultraviolet quality. They appear so good that one is tempted to overlook this fact that power meters don’t actually let you know how much ‘power’ an amplifier is producing in any way, but instead give a rather a rough and ready indication in the overall voltage in the amplifier’s output terminals at any time.
Not that Mingda Tube Amplifier is creating any pretense that you’ll try to use the meters to gauge power output, because there are no wattage or voltage markings on the meter faces in any way! I assume that in case I were a designer at Jungson, I’d look east across the wide blue ocean for the large power amplifiers made in the US, and say something along the lines of ‘if American companies including McIntosh still include power output meters, so should we.’ Actually, Jungson would even be responding to consumer demand, even if they didn’t realize it, because slowly and gradually, businesses that previously eliminated power meters off their front panels are slowly reincorporating them within their designs, driven only by requests using their dealer networks and customers. I can’t say I’d blame them.
I don’t find meters useful or practical, however, if I received the option of a JA-88D (or some other amplifier its physical size) using a plain metal front panel or with a couple of great-looking meters, I’d choose the version using the meters every time. Jungson continues to be very clever with the design of the JA-88. Instead of fit a couple of ugly handles for the front panel, it offers designed the front side panel as two completely different parts, with one panel before the other. The foremost of these two panels features a large rectangular cutout inside it, through which you can see the two power meters, that are fitted in to the hindmost fascia plate. The key here is that you can use the cutout as being a handle! Examine the top panel closely and you’ll notice that the Power on/off, Volume up/down and source switching buttons are fitted to some scalloped semi-circular depression on the foremost panel. In between the two meters is really a sloping rectangular section that is a mirror when ‘off’ plus an LED read-out when it’s on (about which more later). Overall, you will notice that between the two, the two meters, the mirror between them, the buttons and also the semi-circular scallop form a type of rudimentary ‘smiley face’-giving a whole new meaning for the wqilvi of anthropomorphism in highend audio.
In reality, as the Xiangsheng Pre-Amplifier is made in China, it may perfectly be deliberate, since anthropomorphism (the action of attributing human forms or qualities to things which are not human) holds much significance in Chinese culture. The particular name Jungson means, literally ‘The spirit in the gong’ which alludes to a 4,000 year old copper gong that is certainly famous throughout China. Chinese people believe the sound out of this particular gong is unique because it’s underneath the control of a musical god. On the rear panel the two main pairs of gold-plated speaker terminals per channel and four line level inputs. Three in the inputs are unbalanced, connection being created by RCA connectors. Your fourth input is balanced, using a female, lockable XLR terminal which uses Pin 1 for ground, Pin 2 for ( ) and Pin 3 for (-).
Within the centre of the panel is actually a standard fused (10-amp) IEC power socket. All of the connectors are of excellent quality, but they’re not ‘audiophile grade.’ It appears to be the negative terminal is not referenced to ground, which means you should connect the Jungson’s speaker outputs simply to ordinary passive loudspeakers. You’ll need a fair little bit of room as well as a sturdy rack to support the Jungson JA-88D. Its dimensions are 470 × 430 × 190 (WDH) and weighs 29.6kg. I would personally recommend placing it on a solid surface, with several centimetres of clear space all-around, because for any solid-state amplifier it runs hot-sizzling hot indeed.